MUTARE, Zimbabwe (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Villagers re-located to a sprawling government-owned farm complex in eastern Zimbabwe to make way for the nation’s biggest diamond field are hoping that President Robert Mugabe’s move to take control of the valued resource will benefit them.
More than 1,000 families were moved in 2009 from a village adjacent to the Chiadzwa diamond field in Marange to Arda Transau, a 12,000 hectare farm settlement about 40 km (25 miles) to the north with promises of a better life.
Arda Transau was billed as a new township with tarred roads, shops and health clinics – but seven years later the villagers say they have yet to see the promised education and health facilities while their homes are crumbling and food is scarce.
Seven mining companies licensed to mine the area were ordered in March to leave by Mugabe who accused them of robbing Zimbabwe of wealth. Mugabe took over all diamond operations in the newly-formed Zimbabwe Consolidation Diamond Company (ZCDC).
Some of the affected diamond companies – Mbada Diamonds and Anjin Investments – have since taken the government to court with the issue still pending before the courts.
While Mugabe’s move could further tarnish the country’s image as a risky investment, with investors already unnerved by his drive to force foreign-owned firms to sell majority shares to locals, the relocated villagers are hoping it will help them.
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